Dusty memories from 24 years ago.
From the long lost archives. This is the last pair of monitors that I worked on in The late 1980's. This set was made in 1993. Drivers were by Dynaudio. A 15W75 midwoofer and D28-2 soft dome tweeter. They sounded pretty good. The cabinet had a massive front baffle of 62mm (2 1/2") and a dual enclosure. The interior enclosure used a partial ellipsoid shape and the voids between this and the outer enclosure were sand filled. The ellipsoid inner volume was constructed in such a manner that it allowed a complete collapse of a reflection off of the back wall in half a wavelength. Sound waves bounced off of the rear wall and then reflected to a predetermined focal point and converged into a crisscross of counteracting reflections. It was a pretty successful design in terms of high quality audio reproduction. It's handicap was that it was a very expensive design from a company that had no real footing in the market. Lesson learned through the engineering was priceless. Lessons learned in unsuccessful marketing was equally priceless. Remember that this was pre-internet.
This design was out at the same time as the original Totem Loudspeaker. In fact I had a good conversation with the designer of the Totem speaker at the 1989 Montreal Audio Show. Our discussion centered around the merits of the tweeter they used versus the Dynaudio tweeter. Then I was able to follow up that discussion with the owner of Solen Electronique (Denis Oullete) who was the supplier for both of us. Denis asked my opinion of how it sounded? My reply was "a cheap tweeter that was doctored up". "Exactly" was the reply. Then Denis and I traded ideas on the best crossover for my implementation. I think Denis taught me more about crossovers in that conversation than in any other one place. I stand on the shoulders of giants in this industry. From those generous enough to share their perspective and experience. That has been through the printed page and through one on one contact. Through emails and phone conversations in later years.
The cabinet Fc was tuned to 45 hertz. And the little driver that we used could be rather great sounding in a medium sized room. The beginnings of understanding driver marketing were hitting me. The X-max Dynaudio presented was not specified as a plus or minus. Just total combined. The frequency response graph included a lowpass circuit for the woofer and a highpass circuit for the tweeter graphs. Things you learn along the way. Calculations were done using the loudspeaker cookbook and my good old TI calculator. Measurements via a function generator and a paper chart recorder and my trusty RadioShack SPL meter. You did what you could with what you had. Now we can do a little better!
It's not everyday that you get a visit from a genuine audio dignitary, Nay his highness himself! The grand poopah of all things reproduced via sound waves.
His highness paid us a congenial visit a few weeks ago and we are happy to share the outcome of his shared wisdom. "The money is in cables Mark!" So I got to thinking? "But you have to have something that has perceived value. Something not done by any other company." So into the left and insert two ear plugs I did (My best attempt at not loosing a thought). And this is what the KA brain trust came up with.
Yes you have guessed it. It's the Kravchenko Audio Reticulated Audio Pipeline. Never before has so little been presented as so much. The cable world will have to swallows it's pride and come over to the KA side.
A yet to be determined price in the 6 figures is what we have thought about. Dreamed about really. Really. No I'm not kidding. We figure if we sell three pair a year we could cover expenses. So we are looking for takers.
On the speakers page of the store in this website you will find available some ready made baffles for a set of CBT loudspeakers. The baffles come with 26 pieces of a highly regarded wideband drivers and are purpose fitted for use.
They are the product of a design that I am no longer pursuing. I like the CBT concept. What I will be doing shortly is producing one with current drivers that are of my own design and manufacture..
Also available are four PowerSoft plate amplifiers that would make a great active CBT. If you are interested in this you know how to get a hold of me. This is a one time offer. When they are gone I will not be offering a CBT kit again.
Many people who are looking at this site are in the audio business. Many are actually professional car audio installers. And some of them actually own their businesses.
I have been blessed with people that give me great design advice for what works and what is not gonna work in car audio. And I really appreciate it. We are close to doing a run of the shallow 6.5 inch drivers. And I'm wondering if there is any further advice.
Also wondering if there is enough demand out there for a appreciable run size.
Comments are enabled below if you are willing to write down what you think.
I just received the usual daily dose of emails. Among them was a cool driver from Parts Express. It's their ES180TiA-8 model. Funny thing is that they use the same sized basket as I do. And I never considered my offering as a 7 inch driver. But upon taking a tape measure to the prototype basket in a nearby shelf I find it to be almost 7 1/8th inches in outside diameter. I squeeze a bit more Sd out the basket than did the engineer who designed it for Parts Express as I have the basket machined in strategic places to allow what I am looking for in terms of clearances. The basket is a very beefy design that has a great deal of potential. And I get a great surface area because the surround I use is custom designed for the sole purpose of a clean response and a long excursion. On that topic of surround for a clean response, I'm actually looking into making a double s type surround as well. It offers some further benefits in the higher frequency range.
Right now the surround we are using has a few applications of mass loading and dampening that have turned this driver into a clean mean pumping machine. ( oh yeah took me at least 30 seconds to think that one through! )
Displacement is one thing. But having a clean easy to listen to midrange is really the goal in a driver size like this. And an enormous amount of time on the design end was applied to making it so. Looking forward to the new batch coming. We are using the same custom cone, and a retooled surround to take advantage of the new motor's extra available excursion.
So maybe I should rename the KA6.5 as a KA7?
The 8 is actually larger than 8 inches to. Man all my model numbers are now out the door.
Well off to start the tractor. Winter is still here in Ontario. And we just received a nice dump of snow. So time to clear away all 250 cm or 10 inches of the fluffy stuff.
How much wood can I chuck?
Part of what makes us a different kinda company is that we design drivers, and we integrate drivers into finished products. Much of that kind of work is showcased in the Previous Commercial Products page under the services tab. From a value added perspective the creation of a loudspeaker is worth more to the end client than the constituent parts.
Research and Development of loudspeaker drivers for OEM and DIY applications is an time consuming and expensive business. So to push this out into the open we are getting into to this in a modest way. Each model we are going to offer is a unique design entry in their respective design types. Our first finished product is almost ready. A two way very high efficiency horn loaded loudspeaker for home audio and theater applications. The model will be designated as the KA-HT-MAXX and is pushing the boundaries of what is currently available either in prosound or in home audio. Years of experience has taught me that some products simply do a job better than others. As an example high frequency reproduction can be done efficiently by a compression driver. It can also be done with high efficiency planar diaphragm drivers. The differences are interesting. Differences in the time you are comfortable in listening to the speakers are the greatest differences. They are linked to the amount of distortion products and the types of distortion products produced by the various drivers. Add to the mix that if you can use a horn loaded cone driver they to have a mechanical lever type of effect in that they can produce a pretty high output of sound for a relatively small movement of the cone. This is another reason why the sound reproduction can be dramatically clean from unwanted distortion products.
Back to the wood chuck line.
Part of what I personally enjoy in this field of endeavor is to actually fabricate finely crafted products. I have been behind the scenes training and coaching quite a few other people in producing high quality loudspeaker cabinets. There is enjoyment in engineering and testing to be sure. The pursuit of an idea along with the calculations required and validation of the calculations are of great interest to me. Those types of endeavors are part of every day over herein one way or another. And I have found also a similar type of enjoyment in pursuing the actual fabrication of these ideas and concepts into physical products.
What changes a new year can bring in!
You may have noticed that we are creating a newly designed website. Steve is doing a wonderful job. And I help with content and text. A second set of eyes and ideas for my website is very much appreciated.
You may notice that we have a few new sections. Mobile drivers, Professional drivers, HiFi Drivers and Speakers.
We are close to setting up a funding source for some of the stuff. And I'm seriously considering a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign for two shallow woofers specifically designed for mobile audio.
I'm busting my rear end to get a few prototypes out in the wild so I have some feedback. It simply takes money, lot's of money! The gentlemen are already chosen and they are knowledgeable users of high quality mobile sound drivers.
Their feedback will be key to setting the stage for a funding run.
As for other companies finished speakers.
I have done a fair bit of commercial design for a few companies. I'm thinking of putting up a page showing the ones that have publicly acknowledged my input. I'll put in little bits of information about what I was able to provide in the way of either complete design or design assistance.
Now for something a little different:
It's about time to dive into the deep end of the pool and make available some of the stuff sitting in the design files. The kind of speaker designs that I did for others but held back on letting out into the hands of previous clients. There is a full complement of ideas. From bookshelf designs to really massive floor standing monitors. From the fertile mind of a loudspeaker designer to your home I guess. This is not intended to be a production run of anything. I'll do a limited run of speakers each year so that I can keep them under control. Availability will be on a first come first served basis. Each model will have a fully finished first run and when they are done, we will be putting up information. Each model will be offered in two formats, Active and passive. Passive will cost 50% more than active.
It takes a fair bit of time to design and develop a good passive crossover. And to build them with quality components takes a fair bit of money. My personal preference is for doing the work with an active crossover and built in amplification with an active DSP network. I can also set up the speakers so you can provide your own amplifiers and I provide a pre-programmed DSP unit to do the crossover work.
As a teaser I'll introduce what I have in mind.
A point source partially horn loaded bookshelf. Horn loaded mid tweeter with woofer injection at the correct point for both wavelength and time alignment from within the horn. High efficiency design.
Medium sized rear loaded horn WWTWW system. One in prototype stage has been running for a few years and continues to make me itch to let it out in the hand of others. Driver complement is 4 proprietary 5.25 mid-woofers and a medium sized planar mid tweeter. A high efficiency design.
Larger driver complement of the same format. This will allow the system to plumb the depths of music and movie effects with great authority. It would have 4 proprietary 6.5 and a large proprietary planar mid tweeter. High efficiency design
The big momma. I partially released a large format system when I was with Funk Audio. I built it and we exhibited it but the design was not transferred to Funk Audio. I have done some serious refining of the concept. Proprietary drivers with more than twice the X-max and redesigned rear loaded horn for effective in room response all the way down to 14hertz. I did it before. And time to do it again. High efficiency design.
Right to left is Peter Andrews current ALMA president and Peter Larsen of LOUDSOFT.
We were discussing the ability to model loudspeakers driver parts with readily available open source tools.
I'm near the end 1:16 to 1:21. I had the priviledge to give a presentation on Open Source Loudspeaker Modeling.
Some dude catching up on his emails. And enjoying the tunes coming out of the AvantonePro Abbeys. One sweet sounding loudspeaker. I had a small part in helping voice the originals pair. Another set of knowledgeable ears. Hats of to Mr. Craig Devin a great design and realistic price point.
I tend to post things that I hope will be of interest. Sometimes of no real connection to audio. I put up one off design work and custom work as a bit of a show and tell and a scope of capabilities over here.
What does not get put up is what I consider the more mundane parts of this business. The testing, the measurement and the engineering part.
Lot's of time staring at my computer screen.
I think it is high time that that becomes a part of the audio engineering that I put up on this blog.
Taking the opportunity to visit China these past two weeks has kind of opened my eyes to a few things. Having rubbed shoulders with a few very knowledgeable gents has motivated me to share a bit more.
So in the weeks to come I will be putting up some different pieces of information.
The topics will include some driver design points. Some info on the software that we are developing in house to facilitate the art of driver design to a little bit further degree of calculation.
I had the opportunity to give a very brief presentation about the software at the Loudspeaker Sourcing show in Nansha.
Many asked if I was going to release this software. My answer was pretty simple. I don't want to support it. That job is a thankless one. And the reason why so many programs are so expensive. The after sale support.
There is a possibility of a simple direct share with no promises. That may happen. The software does not design speakers. The person directing the software does.
So stay tuned. A few enclosures have to be finished as prototypes for a few clients. I will be posting some of the measurement and testing. And I will try and make it as interesting as I can. Questions are welcome as always. So is constructive criticism.
A little view of a guy in an anechoic chamber!
I just fit!
I helped design and build this a few years ago. Nice to see that it is being put to good use.
Well I'll be in China for a while in the beginning of October. Part meet and greet and part fact finding. Looking forward to both.
I will be coming back soon enough and will have more news as the month progresses.
Looking forward to seeing some folks at the Loudspeaker Industry Sourcing Show. Looks to be a busy and fruitful gathering.
If you want to talk to me I'll be the guy that looks like Shrek. No green paint unfortunately!
Well summer has been a blast. Many things done. Many left to do.
I played around with the poll page. Not happy with the way it looks or works. That I will figure out how to make much better.
I have tweeters almost ready to show up. A final payment is all that is required. They are raw drivers. And I have 8 empty car mount aluminum cup mounts in stock. I have a pair that are reserved for warranty. Yes I do warranty when it is my fault. I had a pair go out a while back that I did not clean up properly when assembling. Learned from the mistake. And now I don't have the same problem. A pair are already promised to one gent. So that leaves possibility for three pair.
I will do a new run of car mounting enclosures that will address some of the comments that I have received about cup size and shape. And there will no longer be any push on connectors. I think almost universally the push on connectors were made into a wire tail and connected in that manner.
And I have an idea that can make the tweeter mount as small as is possible. But that will take a trip to China and some explaining at the factory.
A home version is almost ready. It will happen when I have my little prototype lathe going. Have to start off somewhere.
I will end up doing them as needed out of black Acetal. It's a strong attractive plastic that is nice and easy to machine.
New poll and new poll format.
New options and new potential drivers are there to vote for.
Take a look and vote for what interests you. If it is not there drop me a line and I may include it.
Currently I am working with our programmer to produce a very comprehensive software suite for the design and performance modeling of loudspeaker drivers. Specifically the soft mechanical parts and the motor magnetics analysis.
It is proving very fruitful.
Concepts and simulations that were difficult to integrate into a loudspeaker design through a single program are now in a single integrated interface. This produces a smoother flow of work, and a general standard of calculation that builds confidence in the engineering calculations. Nothing is worse than trying to move some simulation results from one program to another and not really knowing the standards being applied in each case. The manuals only tell you so much. They leave out the actual bits that are most useful to the competent engineer.
It is opening up quite a few opportunities for me.
We are in the process of proving it out in comparison to results calculated with ANSYS and a few other big gun FEA applications. Vector fields and opera are the two other programs for comparison.
So far the FEA comparisons are spot on.
So from this point we go to real world versus simulation world.
That is designing a motor as built, simulating it and comparing the simulations to the actual measurements.
This builds confidence in the results. And is the only way I know of to really prove out the calculation methods.
Why is this important?
It should cut down on the design time and open up possible motor designs that would be difficult if not impossible with most commercially available software.
How about 4 discrete motor gaps and 8 coils?
Front and back spiders?
Inside and outside the former coil simulation?
How about flat wire or round wire?
Standard voice coil dimensions from major suppliers?
( three at the moment )
Interactive spider designer?
Interactive surround designer?
Both soft part designs are run through potential stress points, mechanical movement and bending yielding calculations.
All there ready to go.
Not a chance. In house only.
Last thing to do is integrate a few more mechanical measurement options in the hardware test and measurement suite and we will be sitting pretty much in the Klippel range of measurement capabilities.
At just a little cost savings of course.
Is it as good?
Well proof is in the comparison. And those shall be posted as we gain confidence in the full software suites capabilities.
There is a page that I keep close watch on. Yes it is the product polling page. There are a few reasons why that is there. It's a place for the DIY community to make themselves heard. And I do check it at least once a week.
Clear interest is in a shallow 6.5 for car use and a shallow 8 for car use.
That means that there will be greatest efforts made to produce these products. Ask for what you want and I will take a shot at costing and assembly methods. If it makes economic sense I will make them.
A few things are in the mix on my end in terms of being able to rapidly develop prototypes. I will be busy making posts on that front over the next few months. Looks like I will be setting up a machine shop instead of farming out prototyping.
The KAHTMAXX is just about ready. Many interesting adventures on the assembly front as this is a very complex horn to assemble.
105db per watt down to 70 hertz. That is a 2 pi spec. In room will be higher as there are more reflections. I'm finalizing a high frequency horn to match and it will be a force of nature. This is Klipsch horn territory. Without the nasty compression driver sound. Yes you read that correctly. Once you have heard a good planar you will know what I mean. There is a floor standing version all mapped out that I call the Klipsch Horn killer. An Fc of 30 hertz on the low end. And a similar midrange horn with a custom high frequency horn s well. That will be produced some time in the winter.
We keep bees.
And all the work that goes into keeping them going.
Like the electric fence you see in the picture.
That works as a Bear deterrent. And yes we have a bear or two around right now. A bear ripped apart and helped itself to a hive we had on another part of our property.
So this one gets the royal treatment. Complete with solar charged battery backed up electric fence. A mere 12 kilovolts.
That should make the next hungry bear wake up a little.
A long time ago I played the French Horn. You will see them in the latter part of this video. I have played these parts and I enjoyed them immensely back then.
I take great pleasure in sharing this video. I have loved classical music from childhood before I knew any names of even one piece. I found the types of classical music I liked out of sheer interest and dogged determination. I have learned quite a bit, and have quite a groomed collection of music.
There are many people out there who are the same.
Everytime I showcase speakers that I have built I find something that really blows away people from my collection.
I wish more people would have this type of a sharing spirit with their talents.
The piece of music played is Beethoven's 9th, the Ode to Joy.
And joyous it is. Just watch the kids in the video.
I get asked that question fairly often.
Will I be making a line of speakers for the public?
The offerings from Funk Audio are my design work.
The models 8.2 and the 6.1 as well as the original design concept for the plate amps. I contributed to refining the TSAD Driver in terms ease of manufacturing and greatly improving the driver motors cooling.
I also sent this design to Nathan in 2012:
And this is what Nathan came up with:
A nicely designed Horn Subwoofer that resembles the Orbit shifter from JTR.
And it should. Becasue that was the design goal in the first place!
So Yes I have designed conventional speakers.
A little more unconventional:
The bass section of the Volti Audio Vittora is my design work:
Scroll down to a New Small Horn.
I have also advised on the newest model 29 soon to be released from Morrison Audio. One of the few successful omni speakers that are available. We took a great tight sounding speaker and did some more work on the upper bass lower midrange. Don is an awesome designer in his own right. I just made a few suggestions.
Newest member of the club is Unity Audio :
Omer has been working with some interesting wideband designs. We have come up with a floorstander that should be a very interesting departure from the sound you normally relate to a small wideband driver. One with low end. And a punchier midbass to.
That should be released fairly soon.
So what do I come up with for my own line?
Well I can give you a bit of information on the latest offering from K-Audio.
Our first offering will be a rather unique one.
It's a Concentric Horn. Designed for installed home theater applications. Very high efficiency. Enormous detail put into even coverage of the room across the whole frequency range. And efficiency akin to that of a Klipsch horn speaker. As I do not like the sound of most compression drivers I have opted for a very high efficiency low distortion planar. It's coupled to a purpose built radiation pattern matched horn. Matched in the sense that the bass and midbass sound dispersion pattern will match closely with that of the midrange and high frequency as much as is possible.
This kind of performance cannot be attained with a conical or straight sided horn in the midbass upwards.
This speaker setup in the link above is basically a midbass or kick horn with a planar mid tweeter and a simple waveguide.
Awesome for PA use! I have measured this waveguide and found it to be pretty bad at creating an even coverage verses frequency spread. It beams. This waveguide does not have the depth to properly produce a acoustical loading for the lower end of the planars reproduction. It also lacks the proper aspect ratio to support horn loading in the higher frequency range. So you have basically a midband peak in it's horn loading. I guess that's good because a straight sided horn that is supposed to cover from bass to lower midrange will also have serious beaming peaks and valleys due to it's inherent internal reflections. Parallel sides in a horn that is supposed to operate above the midbass (80 to 120 hertz region) is not a very good design path to follow.
I designed a very similar dual twelve kick here:
And Andy's awesome folding work:
Andy Lowe is the craftsman that created the fold and the box design.
This speaker is designed specifically to fill in the region in between a horn loaded low frequency subwoofer and a main set of loudspeakers. It allows maximum efficiency in the midbass region. So basically a kick drum type of a horn. Not designed in any way to be a midrange horn.
So having designed and studied many types of speakers for almost the past thirty years I have come up with a few ideas!
So what can a speaker designer do?
Do it right!
We want a pretty much spherical wavefront if we are going to have an even coverage pattern in room. Vertical and horizontal coverage. There are only a few horn types that will do that. The one I have chosen is the best. In the square profile it can still produce an almost spherical wavefront. This makes building it easier, and smaller. It is also one of the shortest types of horns for the low frequency cutoff produced.
I'm pretty good at working with physics, but I can only work with them not against them!
Here is a teaser of the beginning. There will be a series of YouTube videos on this loudspeaker soon enough.
The frequency range covered is a solid 70 hertz to over 20 kilohertz. Just like the Klipsch Horn. Size is approximately one meter or 3 feet square with a depth of 700 mm or 24 inches. And like the Klipsch horn this speaker will have a baseline efficiency of 105db/watt. It will actually be a little higher in room. Can you say dynamic? And lower midband distortion than the Klipsch horns to!
The current design is for in wall applications and will be steerable and then fixed upon proper location.
There is an MTM version that is planned. As one of my friend in the industry has said. That version will be a force of Nature all on it's own. Imagine midbass and midrange in the 108db/watt or better. It could be driven from your phone!
$7000 a pair delivered. Limited production per year. And there are two sets that are spoken for already. One of them is the MTM version!
This past Saturday April 9th I was privileged to attend the seventh annual DIY Audio Ottawa meeting. We had a blast. Listened to some great sounding audio systems designed and created by some very intelligent and thorough fellows.
All the work I do in this field of endeavor is to listen to music. And we certainly had time to do this. It was great. From some mini monitors that are just simply the state of the art to a large system designed by Wayne Parham. A different sound, yet very pleasant to hear.
I'm glad I could be a part of it. I came with the prototype back loaded horns. A very much improved version of those is going to be around very shortly.
Some pics of the day are below:
The last hiccup is done and over with.
Wow. The things I have learned over the past few days.
Back up and running.
On February 1st this year I thought I transfered my domain registration to another company. Turns out that I made a simple error that caused my website to be down for two days.
Thanks to some kind gentlemen especially Sandy who is a patient fellow and walked me through the mistakes that I made.
One thing I have learned is to follow up on emails from web providers!
I started out in this business doing custom enclosures and basic loudspeaker engineering.
It has been a part of my work for almost 30 years now. And a part that I thoroughly enjoy.
This double set of enclosures has been chronicled here:
I put up different videos on my channel. And slowly they are getting a little better. There is a huge following ( 10 people at the moment ) !
If you have an idea for something that is a little different. Or quite complicated I am your man. The equipment and capabilities of my shop are second to none. And there is a bald guy in there from time to time that can perform modest wood working miracles to.
There's a couple of things that never seem to coalesce in the life of an independant audio designer. I have time to spend designing and engineering, or I am swamped and have money but no time.
Being an independant means I answer to my clients. Not a corporate agenda on squeezing blood from tired old stones.
Being independent means that I can both design to spec and design to the very hairy edge of what is possible to reproduce. And happily I have a build house that is more than willing to take on a challenge.
Being independent also means that I have to fund my R&D. That is what holds back some of the best stuff that I have done design work on.
I'm at a stage right now where I have lot's of time and the other part is in short supply.
Sitting on four driver designs that are both wanted by the public and pushing the envelope of what is currently available.
I have a shallow 8 and a shallow 6.5 that are very high performance but I do not have the funds to push through the development. There is a small form factor tweeter that is almost ready for production and a subwoofer that is ready for production.
There are a few perennial designs that can be produced that would provide such funding.
So either jump in on the cutting edge or fund a proven design up to the individual.
A shallow 15 inch ultra long throw is an idea that I have been kicking around for quite a while.
I also have options to produce parts sourced abroad and assembled here if that is of importance. I take pride in being able to offer some of my stuff to people in a made in Canada or made in the USA label on them.
The truth is I work with the largest loudspeaker forging company on earth, and I know who they make parts for. It's easier to say who they don't make parts for actually. Almost no one does their own heavy forging independently any longer.
How much are we talking about? Well in small runs $13 to $15K for tweeters in a 250pc run. Woofers can be done close to the same amount for a 100 pc run. Those are numbers for the product to be landed here in North America. Not FOB China.
So looking for an investor. Not massive amounts of money just someone that wants a decent return over about 12 months design build cycle. If a person is serious about giving this a shot drop me an email and we can talk.
Mark's Ramblings, show and tell. And other sundries.